A new report found many popular chocolate products contain high levels of heavy metals.

Consumer Reports recently tested nearly 50 chocolate products to see which products posed a "risk."

Chocolate Tested For Metal


Lead and cadmium are concentrated in the cocoa, the ingredient that gives chocolate its distinctive flavor, in chocolate products.

"Experts wanted to see whether other cacao-containing foods posed a risk," Consumer Reports states.


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48 Products Tested

Chocolate Bar

Experts tested 48 different products in seven categories—cocoa powder, chocolate chips, milk chocolate bars, and mixes for brownies, chocolate cake, and hot chocolate as well as dark chocolate bars.

Tested products came from popular name brands like Hershey’s, Ghirardelli, and Nestlé. Officials also tested products sold at national retailers like Costco, Target, Trader Joe’s, Walmart and Whole Foods.

Dark chocolates tended to have higher levels of heavy metals and milk chocolate lower, officials say. Which was expected, officials note.

“But every product we tested had detectable amounts of lead and cadmium,” CR Acting Head Of Product Safety Tested stated. "Sixteen of the 48 products had amounts above CR’s levels of concern for at least one of the heavy metals—in some cases more than twice our limit—but we did find safer options in each category of chocolate products.”

CR tested the 48 chocolate products for lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury. The results were then measured against the maximum allowable dose levels in the state of California. There are currently no federal limits for the amount of lead and cadmium most foods can contain.

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Metal Concern For Children, Pregnant Women


"Exposure to heavy metals is of greatest concern in children and during pregnancy because they can damage the brain and nervous system, causing developmental delays, learning and behavior problems, and more. But adults can also experience negative effects. For example, frequent lead exposure has been linked to immune system suppression, reproductive issues, kidney damage, and hypertension," CR states.

CR's Tests Find: A Third of Chocolate Products Are High in Heavy Metals

Below is the list of products CR found contained the highest levels of heavy metals:

  • Sam's Choice (Walmart) Dark Chocolate 72% Cocoa
  • Divine 85% Exquisitely Smooth Dark Chocolate
  • Evolved Signature Dark 72% Cacao Chocolate Bar
  • Perugina 70% Premium Dark Chocolate
  • Perugina 85% Premium Dark Chocolate
  • Good & Gather (Target) Semi-Sweet Mini Chocolate Chips
  • Hu Dark Chocolate Gems
  • Hershey's Cocoa Naturally Unsweetened 100% Cacao
  • Droste Cacao Powder
  • Nestlé Rich Milk Chocolate Flavor Hot Cocoa Mix
  • Trader Joe's Organic Hot Cocoa Mix
  • Starbucks Hot Cocoa Classic
  • Great Value (Walmart) Milk Chocolate Flavor Hot Cocoa Mix
  • Ghirardelli Premium Brownie Mix Double Chocolate
  • Simple Mills Almond Flour Baking Mix - Chocolate Muffin & Cake
  • Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix
Chocolate Bar

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Nestlé, which owns Perugina, gave CR the following statement:

We apply strict standards to ensure our products are high quality and comply with all applicable regulatory requirements, including limits for cadmium and lead.” And Rick Gusmano, co-founder of Evolved Chocolate, said the company’s chocolate products fall well below levels set in the As You Sow settlement and that the company “regularly tests raw materials and finished goods to ensure compliance and, ultimately, consumer safety.

Other makers of dark chocolate with high levels of metal didn't respond.

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